I once interviewed a designer who asked about my life as a freelancer. “So, what do you do: get up, put on sweatpants, smoke a cigarette, write a little and go back to bed? Maybe watch TV, write a little more?”
Clearly, said designer is a bit of a dick, and most of what he said is completely incorrect. I don’t smoke and I write more than most people I know who work in an office. (The notion that freelancers have tons of time off is a load of bull; if that’s the case, you’re doing it wrong.) But the part he got right? Sweatpants, man. I loves me some sweatpants, and I’m not afraid to admit it.
Karl Lagerfeld has famously said that seeing a woman in sweatpants is a sign that she has given up. I beg to differ: The right pair of sweatpants can be just as cute and stylish as a regular pair of pants. And clearly those of us who love them so much are onto something, because designers like Vince, Alexander Wang and Helmut Lang have been issuing them for years. Rodarte does sweatshirts, for chrissakes. There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable -- as long as you don’t look sloppy.
I wear one of my favorite pairs of Hanes men’s black sweatpants all the time. I scored these sweats for about $6 via an online sale. I would recommend only building your outfits with plain sweatpants. If they have writing on them anywhere (especially if the word “Cutie” is written across the ass), abandon this idea entirely. Stick with black, grey, navy, white –- any solid color will work. And to show you that I practice what I preach, here are a few outfits from my own closet that I wear on the regular:
This is a great option for running errands. The pea coat is from H&M, the striped shirt is from Old Navy and I don’t think either of them were over $25 when I bought them. (I lose my MIND in Old Navy’s shirts. I wake up covered in cotton blend items, just rubbing them on my body and wondering what happened.) The shoes are from Caterpillar, and they are THE MOST COMFORTABLE THINGS EVER. The Marin Boot, people. They really protect your feet, which is super important since I live in New York and walk half marathons daily.
Add a cute chain bag (this one is from Rebecca Minkoff) and sunglasses (homies, ASOS for sunglasses, I swear it) and you’re good to go. Since the weather is warming up, a trench coat would also work. Get one from Gap -- you can’t go wrong and they’re hard to kill.
The second look is what I wear for brunch or when I get the oh-hey-we-need-you-to-show-up-in-five-minutes calls from clients. The jacket is a thrifted men’s suiting jacket I got from Housing Works for $5, the t-shirt is from BDG from Urban Outfitters. You’ve already met my sunglasses, and the bag is a Botkier vintage bag I scored at our local treasure trove, Beacon’s Closet, for $40.
The shoes are one of my favorite stories: they were in a bargain bin for $5.99 at Gabriel Brothers outlet in my hometown of Charleston, WV. I nabbed them in every color they come in because smoking slippers with a skull detail. Hi, have you met me? I will take all of these pairs, thanks.
The final look is one that I’ve worn to dinner with the boyfriend when I’ve forgotten we had a reservation (not proud this happens, but it does). The sequined sweater is an old find from H&M (you can get great shiny objects in that place, just let them catch your eye like a hamster) and the heels are the most expensive things in the whole piece: they’re from Jimmy Choo.
They’re my big Hell-yes-these-will-bring-me-joy purchase from last year. I have had about as many serious designer shoe purchases as I have long-term relationships. That would be exactly five, and I regret none of them. Well, maybe one, but let’s just say it’s because both of them were more painful than they were worth.
A few items I found to get you started on your sweatpants wearing journey:
There are plenty of other ways to style sweatpants, too. Throw on a plaid shirt and fitted leather jacket with heels; channel your inner 90’s grunge rocker. A fitted blazer with a men’s shirt underneath it untucked over sweatpants with ankle boots is always a crowd pleaser. Also, think of a long white layering tank under a black tuxedo jacket. The possibilities are endless, and I defy anyone to tell me any of these looks invoke the phrase “gave up.”
And if they do, those people can suck it. I don’t have time to be uncomfortable.
So, let’s hear it: how do you style your favorite sweatpants? Would you try styling your favorite plain comfy pants with any of these ideas? Or do you think athletic gear is for watching marathon sessions of "Girls" or sweating it out? Let’s get comfortable together in the comments section below.